In the past when I’ve been asked the question, “What makes Sprint Education different from other education marketing agencies?” I’ve always focused on the superior designs we create for clients, the strategic themes that we’ve pioneered for sellers to schools, and the fact that we’re the only agency to own and host our own email servers (which results in open rates 43% higher than the industry average by the way).
Although our education data was as good – if not better – than anyone else’s (currently including around 30% of teachers opted-in through Teacher Perks), it never really seemed sexy or exciting enough to focus on too heavily.
However, for all that I wanted potential clients to focus on our superior content and sending infrastructure, for many of them it all still boiled down to the data. Which got us thinking, what could we do to make our education database as revolutionary and downright sexy as the rest of our service?
Evaluating the state of our education data…
Back in December 2018, 11 months on from the launch of Teacher Perks, we took stock of where we were at with our Education Data:
25% of teachers in our database opted-in through the Teacher Perks website
20,000 average updates being made every 30 days by our in-house Data Team
155,000 named email addresses of teachers/staff that we could target for clients
So, we’d opted-in a quarter of our database within 12 months (Teacher Perks launched in January 2018), the database was being cleansed at an impressive rate, and we had a huge audience of teachers we could market to directly on behalf of our clients. Basically, we were doing a lot of things right.
But it wasn’t enough. We knew that with staff turnover higher than ever in schools we needed to do more to ensure the accuracy of our data. We also knew that there were potentially another 400,000+ teachers/staff out there that we couldn’t currently reach for our clients, and the database wasn’t expanding quickly enough to start really eating into that deficit.
We needed to completely re-think how we managed our data and do something extra ordinary (or even extraordinary!).
Realising we needed to expand our team…
When faced with the challenge of expanding and constantly cleansing a colossal and rapidly changing database, education marketing agencies usually go one of two ways:
a) they outsource the process to an external company (often based abroad)
b) they pool resources and share the data between other similar agencies
The first option didn’t work for us because we’ve always believed that outsourcing means losing control of the process and accepting that quality and accuracy is going to be sacrificed. The second option didn’t work for us because it would mean losing control of how often the teachers in our database were going to be receiving marketing, something we weren’t prepared to consider.
So, we realised we needed to expand our team of data managers. The next question was, how to find really good people. How to find people with a fantastic work ethic, a meticulous eye for detail, and who would class data management as their dream job (I mean, we all love getting stuck into some data management but we know it’s not exactly like playing bass for the Rolling Stones).
It was a tricky one.
Finding exceptional people to drive us forward…
Then it hit us. What if we gave people the opportunity to work for us from home, fitting in their data management work around their busy lifestyles – and even their current jobs or education - and being paid based upon the number of meaningful updates they make on a monthly basis? Would that be enticing enough to attract people of the caliber we wanted?
We created the job spec for a Remote Data Manager and put it out there on social media.
Within just a couple of days we were inundated with over 30 applications, including a handful of exceptional candidates such as Ben, a commercial airline pilot, Melanie, a Freelance Editor, and Steve, a retired Systems Analyst for a FTSE250 company (great people that any business would love to have on their team).
We selected a dozen applicants that we thought looked a good fit for the role and devised a 2-hour test for them to complete at home on a day/time of their choosing. This 2-hour test comprised of the following:
Proofreading Test - to ascertain the applicant’s attention to detail
Data Collection Test - to illustrate research skills and tenacity for gathering information
Presentation Test - to see how clearly and accurately they present key material
6 of the 10 applicants who took the test demonstrated the skills needed to succeed in the role and were offered a job.
Meanwhile, the job applications continued to roll in.
Implementing processes and training to ensure scrutiny…
The six successful candidates were given access to a test version of our Campus software and asked to complete 5 hours of data management, each working on schools in a specific area and each referring to a comprehensive training manual that Pauline and Kelsey (their office-based line managers) had prepared for them.
Their work was then checked rigorously by Pauline and Kelsey and, once it was clear they had achieved the required standard, they were released onto the live Campus database. At this point they were also given access to Slack, an online team messaging tool, where they could get their questions answered by our office-based team (or by one of their fellow remote data managers) at any time of the day.
The first 5 schools these guys worked on in the live system were checked with a fine-tooth comb; not only to ensure that every update they had made was accurate, but also to ensure that they hadn’t overlooked any updates that could and should have been made to that school. Kelsey and Pauline then fed back any corrections or advice necessary.
Following this, these remote data managers were then allowed to work under their own steam, working through a rota of areas that Kelsey and Pauline had drawn up. Every meaningful update they made to the database was tracked automatically by our Campus software and the number of meaningful updates each data manager made was directly linked to the money they were able to earn.
Note: A meaningful update can include where a teacher record has been visually checked and confirmed as accurate, not just those instances where a record has been changed.
To ensure there was no reduction in the quality of their work, Kelsey and Pauline spot-checked 5 schools per week for each data manager (reducing this to 4 in the second week, 3 in the third week, and so on until they were performing so well that only one spot check was required per week).
Meanwhile, more applicants were taking their tests, doing their training, and moving closer to joining the team…
Assessing the impact for our clients 5 months on…
As of today, we now have eleven external data managers and the number of meaningful updates has more than tripled from where we began in December and continues to rise steadily:
February = 51,727 meaningful updates to the data
March = 59,466 meaningful updates to the data
April = 62,383 meaningful updates to the data
In April these 62,383 meaningful updates equated to:
22,905 new teachers/staff added to the database
31,207 new job roles added to the database
13,604 new teacher/staff emails added to the database
However, it’s not just in terms of expansion that our clients are benefitting from the almost 24/7 nature of our new data management processes. Every month we are now:
Closing 3,773 teachers/staff who have left
Editing 1,960 existing teacher/staff email addresses
Editing 3,213 existing teacher/staff job roles
Visually checking and verifying 3,214 teachers/staff
These numbers are fantastic, but the real reason we are making this huge investment is of course to generate higher open rates for our clients. And it’s working…
April 2018 Open Rate = 23.1%
April 2019 Open Rate = 27.0%
This is a significant increase, which really does show that the data is more accurate than ever before. And not only that, with the database having expanded by around 38% (we can now email 255,000 teachers/staff directly), our clients are now able to shout about their products and services to a much wider audience.
And that’s just after 3 months. Think where we’ll be in 12 months’ time as the external data management team grows even further!
It's certainly an exciting time to get in touch to discuss launching your next education marketing strategy with us.
Database of Teachers
Marketing to Schools